Text: Paul Summers
N.B Some people might find images in this sequence disturbing
The birds are like us, they yearn for spring. Today they sound a little agitated, their songs are punctuated with minor notes.
When night comes and the shadows start their dance the demons in my blood awaken; streaming through my veins like a shoal of poisonous fish. By morning, another piece of me has been colonised, another piece of me will belong to them.
Here, democracy is a child; at best, a gangling adolescent. It takes a longer time to unlearn the old ways than it does to learn new ones.
The palinca has transformed my grandfather into a wise-man. Three times in as many minutes he tells us it is important that we do not forgot how to smile. He says smiles are like the sun and rain; without them, nothing can grow.
His dad paid someone he met to connect them to the mains. Of course, it’s illegal but in the shanties it means real lights, hot water and maybe a satellite TV if you’re lucky. Poor Mihai was just too curious. He had always liked to dismantle things, to see how they worked: toy cars, calculators, the old fridge we found on the rubbish tip, he even cut open a dead rook once just to see. Anyhow, he stuck a screwdriver into the connector box and that was it. Dead in a second. Like being struck by lightning. 30,000 volts fired in to him through the tips of his fingers. His bare feet were too dry to act as an earth and so the electricity stayed in him, whizzed around, cooked him like a blood sausage. When the circuit finally shorted and his dad went to investigate, Mihai had already been dead for a minute or so. Nicu reckons the out-house smelt of roast pork and burnt hair.
The morning of the funeral, the sun rose reluctantly, sanguine, like a giant egg-yolk blighted with a spot of blood. Mother is a wreck. I think she might have sworn at the Patriarch. I still haven’t been able to cry but she hasn’t stopped wailing for 32 hours, her eyes have almost imploded, she looks like a zombie. They’ll have to do all they can to stop her jumping in the grave with the casket. Dad’s gone off somewhere; no one has seen him since last night.
And death was just another door. Nicu placed his brother’s stuff carefully into an old Saltza cracker tin and stashed them next to his new shoes on the bottom shelf of the wardrobe. Not much to show for twelve years of life really: a tarnished silver crucifix, a pen-knife, a tatty A5 scrapbook dedicated to Gheorghe Hagi, a single tattered American dollar, a soviet-type lead soldier, two pieces of pyrhrite and a small collection of lapwing’s feathers. His father still hasn’t come home since the funeral. He’s on another bender, homebrew vodka and painkillers, the usual. I hope they work.